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C.    Costs, Benefits, and Effectiveness:    (continued)

In general, the NAS report was critical of evaluation studies that do not
account for differences in program quality. Instead, results are reported
for all programs taken together, which may result in modest gains in student
outcomes but does not estimate accurately the returns to the better-trained
graduates. Employers are also primary beneficiaries of vocational programs,
as they can shift some of the costs of training employees to the Government.
"Thus, ignoring benefits to employers underestimates the value of vocational
programs," the reports states.

However, the NAS panel found too few strong collaborative partnerships
between vocational programs and business and industry, a vital ingredient
of good vocational programs. Without such efforts, schools cannot respond
and adapt to the changing economy, the report declares, and challenges
the education community to make substantial reforms, such as strengthening
teaching and collaboration with employers, strengthening financing, and
Improving access to high-quality vocational education programs.

The NIE study (E.2 below) completed in 1981 addresses program effectiveness
in some depth. Highlights of its findings include:

Effects of Vocational Education on Participants; Results from research
provide only a partialvfewof economic benefits to individuals and the
possible effects of their vocational education experiences on those out-
comes. Females who graduate from high school business and office programs
have higher earnings, greater likelihood of finding jobs and higher occupa-
tional status than female graduates with a secondary general curriculum.
Differences in economic outcome between male vocational and general curri-
culum graduates, who have no postsecondary education, do not indicate
advantages for those taking vocational education. High school graduates
who pursue postsecondary education below the baccalaureate level do better
on a variety of measures of gainful employment than those who do not.

Other evaluations of vocational education programs have been reported in
Annual Evaluation Reports for Fiscal Years 1974-1982.

D.    Plans for Program Improvement and Recommendations for Legislation:

An Administration bill to consolidate Federal programs assisting vocational
education was forwarded to Congress early in FY 1984.

New procedures are being developed to improve the Vocational Education Data
System. The Secretary's 1983 annual report to Congress provided details
about the problems in this system.

E.    Supporting Studies and Analyses Cited in Section C Above:

1.    Education for Tomorrow's Jobs.    National Academy Press, 1983.

2.    The Vocational Education Study.    The Final  Report.    Publication 8.
The National  Institute of Education, September 1981.State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, Fiscal Year 1983,